High School Intern Program

Each summer, SFUSD high school students conduct original research under the direction of a UCSF scientist mentor. This program is rigorous and intense with just eight short weeks for students to complete their research projects. Unlike most other high school research programs in the country, acceptance into the High School Intern Program (HIP) is not contingent upon grades, students already being committed to a career in science or solidly on a path to college. Rather, HIP seeks to support students’ growth and recognition of their own potential by engaging them with authentic science research projects, peer sharing and learning, and individual college counseling. HIP aims to help students develop a sense of belonging in order to broaden their ideas about their own place in college and careers in the biomedical sciences. The majority of program participants come from backgrounds underrepresented in the sciences (minority, low-income, women, from families without a history of college-going, and/or students with disabilities). In order to participate a student must be a rising senior and: attend an SFUSD high school or SF charter school or participate in College Track Oakland.

Each year, 10 of our high school interns are supported with funding from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). In addition to conducting research specifically related to stem cells and regenerative medicine, these interns are part of a larger community of California high school students participating in CIRM’s Summer Program to Accelerate Regenerative medicine Knowledge (SPARK) program. This statewide cohort communicates with the general public about their research experiences through blog and social media postings, and they participate in an annual SPARK conference to share their summer research projects. Read about the experiences of our CIRM SPARK interns on our blog. Check out other CIRM SPARK interns from all over California: The Stem Cellar

An additional 10 students will be funded by the NIH National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke starting in the summer of 2021.

My greatest accomplishment was becoming comfortable and confident enough to present my work to my peers multiple times toward the end of the program. At first I had no idea how I could possibly present such complicated science; however, I came to realize that with focus I could learn almost anything.

 HIP has first of all given me hope that I could do something with my life someday.

- High School Intern

2021 Timeline

  • January: teachers and students receive application information
  • February: students apply
  • March: students interview
  • June: students begin their internship
  • August: students conclude their internship

Nationally, student background correlates with college success:

However, longitudinal outcomes for HIP alumni are inspiring:

These outcomes can only be achieved with the dedicated efforts of the UCSF faculty who generously host interns in their labs, and the UCSF researchers who devote their time and skills to mentoring and inspiring them.

In recognition of HIP’s success, the program received a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring in 2011.

HIP is one of SEP’s longest running programs and is currently funded by the UCSF Chancellor, School of Medicine and Executive Vice Chancellor and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Silicon Valley Community Foundation and the Baskin Family Foundation.

We are currently preparing application materials for the summer 2021 program. Check your school district email for more details about the program in January!


  • Chancellor

  • School of Medicine

  • Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost